Frankie Edgar’s last seven fights have all been for titles. Saturday night’s UFC 162 fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was his first three-rounder since 2009. He was an overwhelming favorite against Charles Oliveira, a BJJ black belt who is best known for his submission game.
Edgar tends to go the distance, but doesn’t come in to the same sort of criticism as other UFC fighters who fail to finish fights, simply because he consistently gets involved in back-and-forth battles and this bout proved to be no exception.
Oliveira had a significant advantage in terms of height and reach and after looking to take the fight to the ground early in the opening round, he settled down and started to use his Muay Thai to good effect, landing jabs and knees.
Edgar’s boxing was crisp, but he struggled early on to time Oliveira or to find a way of dealing with the difference in reach. The first round was close and competitive and the second followed the same pattern to start with as the Brazilian looked to clinch and Edgar changed tactics slightly, scoring a couple of takedowns.
The most significant action of the round came in the last 10 seconds when Edgar executed a perfect double-leg takedown, which undoubtedly caught the judges’ eyes. Oliveira took the opportunity to go for a guillotine, but time was not on his side and the horn sounded to end the round.
Although on paper Oliveira’s best chance to win was by getting the fight to the ground, he was sufficiently confident in his striking at this stage to go toe-to-toe with Edgar in the final round. Unsurprisingly, it was the American who got the better of the exchanges, although he wasn’t having it all his own way. Oliveira landed a couple of clubbing right hands.
The former UFC lightweight champion hit a bit harder and made Oliveira pay the price for turning it into a stand-up fight by hurting him with quick combinations. Although Oliveira was wobbled, he remained on his feet, but eventually decided to shoot for a takedown which was easily stuffed.
The fight finished with Edgar on top, scoring with ground and pound. It was a “fight of the night” contender, but the outcome was never in doubt with the judges seeing it as 30-27 (twice) and 29-28, meaning that Edgar scored his first win since stopping Gray Maynard in October 2011.
After the fight Edgar said, “It was not as hard as a five-round fight. I thought I had him hurt in the third, but he’s so tough. I’ve been through hell these last two fights, but I’m on my way back.”